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To Michele - Padraic Grattan-Smith

In the past women died quickly,

and in full bloom,

of galloping consumption,

in childbirth,

with hectic fevers,

or while a crimson froth

welled up from their lungs.

It’s slower now, and comes later,

but is just as hard.

First Michele was forgetful.

Then she couldn’t talk,

but she could sing.

When that left her,

we could still walk

for miles and miles.

Until her muscles

began to waste.

Now she is helpless,

and stiff.

I carry her everywhere,

easy, because she is so thin

I can count her bones.

Through all of this,

no word or sign from her

of complaint,

as long as I’m with her.

And with each loss,

my love has grown stronger.

So intense now,

I am heart-stricken,

that she must leave me

alone, with myself,

and my regrets.


Paddy is a retired paediatric neurologist.

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